This year Barnes & Noble Poughkeepsie is making a return to Hudson Valley Comic Con and they have some big ideas for the Kids + Teens Zone! There will be plenty of activities and interactive fun for children of all ages to enjoy. 

Alex Simmons is a professional freelance writer, teaching artist, and public speaker, as well as an arts & education consultant. Simmons has penned over 17 middle school and YA novels. As a writer of comics and graphic novels, he has created and written the critically acclaimed adventure series, BLACKJACK, about an African-American soldier of fortune in the 1930s. He received the 2010 Glyph Best Writer Award for his work with Archie & Friends, especially, The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton (both series for Archie Comics). Simmons co-created an African-American hero for DC Comics’ Batman books, and chronicled several tales of Scooby Doo. He’s also created 12 interactive mysteries for the Tiger Toys electronic game WHO DONE IT (which received three educational awards). For over 20 years Simmons has written (and in some cases also created) a number of juvenile mysteries under a variety of pseudonyms for many well-known publishers. He has penned articles for magazines; two educational documentaries; several stage plays; three movie novelizations for Disney and three biographies for Steck-Vaughn, including one on Denzel Washington. Simmons is the founder and co producer of the annual KIDS’ COMIC CON (an age appropriate comic book convention for children, families, and educators now celebrating its 11TH ANNIVERSARY), which has brought fun, art, literacy and science to children from New York to Africa. Simmons is also the founder and curator of the COLOR OF COMICS art exhibition (containing images from artists around the globe) representing the portrayal of people of color in comics. This event was chosen by the American Embassy Dakar to be part of the Fessman International Cultural Arts Festival in Senegal Africa, in December 2010. Simmons has been brought in as a guest speaker to talk about such matters as literacy, arts-n-education, diversity, and more. He’s given workshops on science and super heroes, journalism, and playwriting to students and teachers in varying socio-economic levels.

Mike Lopez, along side with artist Gary Eckerson, created “Life’s A
Beach”, which follows the good natured fun of the kids of Avalon Beach.

Mike is also an educator, artist, and writer, who’s main mission is to
bring the positive message of the arts to young people. Along with other
artists, writers and actors, Mike has presented his “Positively Inspiring
Young People With the Arts” workshop in New York City, Washington DC,
Boston and Atlantic City. It is during these workshops that teachers,
librarians, camp directors and anyone who wants to creatively inspire young
people are able to gather ideas, network and learn from professionals. He
is currently working on his next book “Thrillseekers Annonymous”

Gary’s work will be next seen in the sci-fi epic “Without Boarders” coming
later this summer.

Come and meet Mike and Gary, ready to be inspired to do amazing things for
young people!

You may recognize Diana Leto’s name from her cover artwork for IDW’s MY LITTLE PONY and DARK HORSE’s Jungle Tales of Tarzan. A professional character artist and art director for over a decade, she has made a name for herself creating art for world class clients like Nickelodeon, Jim Henson Legacy, Sesame Street, Dark Horse comics, IDW Comics, and Warner Bros. Diana earned her “Tarzan Yell” as the illustrator for the comic adaption of Edgar Rice Burroughs “The Cave Girl” and is the colorist for the latest incarnation of “Carson of Venus”. Her artwork is featured in Dark Horse’s graphic novel “The Halloween Legion”, the critically acclaimed and Stan Lee Excelsior nominated all-ages adventure, of which she is co-creator. She is an active participant and presenter at Kids Comic Con and Adobe MAX, promoting literacy, education, and by example, gender equality in the professional arts.

Michael Grassia is a cartoonist and educator that creates all-ages cartoons. He created the educational website which is devoted to the art of cartooning. There you will find tutorials, interviews with artists in the field, downloadable how-to-draw sheets and coloring pages, all for free. Remember…there is always time to get in toon!

Joe Bevilacqua, also known as Joe Bev, is a public radio producer and radio theater dramatist. However, his career has taken him into every aspect of show business, including stage, film and television, as a producer, director, writer, author, actor, journalist, documentarian, and even cartoonist. “Joe Bev” produces five weekly podcasts also heard of over 100 public radio stations, each hour a different format: comedy, drama, jazz, cartoons, and interview, and has created over 300 audio titles distributed by Blackstone Audio. Bevilacqua sent a 120 minute cassette of his Willoughby stories to voice actor Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear, Quickdraw McGraw, Huckleberry Hound and other Hanna-Barbera and Jay Ward cartoon characters. Butler soon dubbed himself Bevilacqua’s mentor. Joe Bevilacqua has written and edited a number of books, including Daws Butler, Characters Actor, the authorized biography of his mentor and the voice of Yogi Bear. He co-authored the script book Uncle Dunkle and Donnie with Daws Butler and edited Butler’s Scenes for Actors and Voices workbook.

Ray Felix, is a Bronx native born in 1973, he is a graduate of the School of Visual arts Class of 1999/ 2000. His comics include, ” God: The Second Coming”. ” No-1 Anthology”, “O.D’s H.H” 1 & 2, “Bronx Heroes”, “Runaway Slave” and “A World Without Superheroes”. Ray Felix is also the Executive Director of the community based organization, Bronx Heroes Comic Con, which promotes literacy and education through the practice of reading and creating comics. Felix has Freelanced with off Broadway productions such as “The Monkey King” from Great small Works (2006), Cathay: Tale of 3 cites in China(2007) with director Ping Chong and designer Stephen Kaplan. In addition, “Generation Buy” (2010) with writer/ Director Phillip Saruaci jr. and he worked on the Comic TV adaption of the Bronxnet Emmy Award Winning show “Bronx Flavor”, starring Justin Fornal aka Baron Ambrosia. Ray Felix’s film credits include “A Wonderful Christmas: Feliz Navidad” (2005) released by Lionsgate Pictures. Ray Felix is the winner of numerous awards and grants such a “BRIO- Bronx Recognizes Its Own, 2002, CAG Award- Community Arts Grant 2011, 2012, NYSCA, New York State Council on the Arts in 2011 and 2012, The Sherman Foundation, New York Community Trust award, The National Endowment for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Lambent Foundation of Tides Foundation for 2011.